$15M claim accuses agency of failing to protect foster child
PHOENIX — Another recently filed multimillion dollar claim accuses the state Department of Child Safety of failing to protect a foster child from sexual abuse.
The latest claim — a precursor to a possible lawsuit — seeks $22 million on behalf of a girl, now 8 years old, who was sexually abused in 2016 by Jose A. Egurrola, a registered sex offender who lived in the Phoenix-area homes of the girl’s foster parents.
The claim filed Tuesday on behalf of the girl follows a separate $15 million claim filed Jan. 31. That claim alleged the state failed to protect a foster child from abuse by a Sierra Vista foster father later convicted of sex crimes.
The claim filed on behalf of the 8-year-old girl, whose name was redacted, said she was harmed by a failure of the department to investigate the foster home and those living there.
It said the girl told her foster mother that Egurrola touched her private parts. The foster mother ordered Egurrola out of the home and called Avondale police, who began an investigation that resulted in Egurrola being convicted of sexual conduct with a minor.
The girl is still exhibiting behavior common to sexual abuse victims, attorney Robert E. Pastor wrote in the claim.
“Instead of exploring her world, making new friends and becoming a confident little girl, (she) is paralyzed by fear, confused by what happened to her and unsure who she should trust.”
The claim cited numerous settlements and jury verdicts in the millions of dollars to sexual abuse victims, including children abused by teachers and clergy members.
“When institutions who have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children fail to do their job, juries understand their responsibility to hold those institutions accountable,” Pastor wrote in the claim.
Department of Child Safety officials cannot comment on specific claims, department spokesman Darren DaRonco told The Associated Press in an email responding to a request for comment.
However, background checks are required for all adults living in a home before foster placements are approved, DaRonco said. “This is our policy and it is required by law.”
Egurrola is serving a 20-year prison sentence. He previously served prison sentences for convictions for attempting to commit sexual conduct with a minor and for failure to register as a sex offender.
The Sierra Vista foster father, David Frodsham, is serving prison terms adding up to 17 years for convictions of two counts of for sexual conduct with a minor.